Less is More: The Billboard

This abandoned billboard stands out at Portage and Sherbrook. Diana Foxall/Global News

The Billboard is the first in our series on the theme “Less is More” – stories of people, places and things that are better off when you take something away. Listen Wednesday and Thursday on 680 CJOB. 

On the street, in the sky, on the side of a bus, when you scroll through your phone – advertisements are everywhere.

They’ve become an unavoidable part of our everyday lives.

Most are vibrantly colored and carefully tailored to catch our attention.

But what happens when the once bright and colorful ad is no longer so nice to look at?

Our city has its share of eyesores from leftover signage, but one that many Winnipeggers notice on a regular basis is at the corner of Portage Ave. and Sherbrook St.

Story continues below advertisement

That’s where you’ll find the Casa Loma apartment building. Over the years its exterior has been renovated and beautified, but one unfortunate element of the building that remains: a giant metal structure that once displayed one of the biggest billboards in the city. The metal frame now displays nothing but graffiti.

There is some good news. 680 CJOB reached out to the owners of the Casa Loma building. Sussex Realty’s Kris Deslaurier says they are in discussions with the city about licensing the sign to bring it back to life. They hope to have more to say in a couple of weeks.

Story continues below advertisement

But why has it taken so long?

Much like the regulations that are outlined for maintaining the exterior of our own homes, the city of Winnipeg has rules for keeping billboards neat and tidy. The city’s zoning and permit administrator Martin Grady says there are plenty of bylaws in place when it comes to size and placement of advertisements.

“Billboard signs can only be located in industrial areas and commercial areas. Typically you find them along sort of our major commercial streets. There are also regulations that govern their placement, and their height and size. The maximum size is 200 square feet and 30 feet is the maximum height,” he said.

There are 45 pages of bylaws that dictate all things advertisement and billboard-related, but Grady said when it comes to the upkeep, that’s where the rules are lacking.

“There’s nothing in our zoning by-laws that would deal with maintenance of a billboard sign in particular.” Grady said.

Story continues below advertisement

He says, as with most by-laws, the first step is to start a conversation. Then the city can speak with the owner of the building and hopefully resolve the issue at hand.

Sponsored content